It appears things did not go as planned following the decision of the finance committee of the House of Representatives not to attend a joint public hearing over dissenting views trailing the passage of the Finance Bill.

As reported by Punch, members of the House of Representatives were not carried along by members of the Senate regarding the proposed public hearing. This led to anger and resentment on the part of the members of the Finance Committee of the House of Representatives.

The Details: Choosing to confide in journalists, the representatives believed the Senate chose to conduct matters regarding the finance bill in secret.

SEEPCO, local content laws, CBN Cashless Policy: Reps eye policy reversal, court Emiefele approval , Lawmakers tackle Finance Minister over failed CCTV project worth $460 million , Former Ghanaian President, Mahama begs Buhari to open border Former President of Ghana, John Mahama has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to open up its borders saying that Ghana has been heavily affected by Nigeria’s decision to close its borders. Mahama said that for economic activities to resume in West Africa, Nigeria needs to reconsider its decision on the total border closure. He made this plea while delivering the seventh anniversary lecture of investiture into The Realnews Hall of Fame and the unveiling of a book, titled: Pathways to Political and Economic Development of Africa. According to the former president as reported in The Nation, the closure of especially the Benin border, was taking a significant toll on many small and medium businesses, especially in Togo, Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire, which relied on inter-country trade. “I am sure that businesses in Nigeria that rely on supplies from these countries are also suffering. With the signing of the joint border task force agreement between Nigeria and her neighbours, I will like to take this opportunity to appeal to Nigeria to open up her border so that economic activities can resume,” Mahama said. While reacting to the shut down of shops owned by Nigerians by the Ghana Union of Traders’ Association (GUTA) as retaliation to the border closure, Mahama said; “Back home in Ghana, I also look forward to our government’s intervention that brings an immediate cessation to the forceful and illegal closure of shops of foreigners, especially Nigerians, by members of the local trade associations”. Mahama who is a former Chairman of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) spoke on how he still has an abiding interest in the progress of ECOWAS and its people. In this light, he said that Nigeria being the home of ECOWAS and the largest economy in West Africa should not allow the objective principles for establishment of ECOWAS to be lost. Meanwhile, the Vice Chancellor of Niger Delta University, Bayelsa State, Prof. Samuel Edoumiekumo, advised President Muhammadu Buhari not to yield to pressure to reopen the borders. Edoumiekumo who was also present at the lecture said President Buhari should remain firm in his resolve to ensure economic growth and the country’s development as the border closure will generate more revenue for the nation and tackle smuggling.

A Drama of supremacy: However, the truth of the matter is that members of the House of Representatives chose to boycott the joint hearing because they were informed late on Sunday evening after news of the hearing had widely circulated in the media.

A source from the House Committee protested the late notice, tagging it a matter of disrespect.

[READ MORE: Buhari proposes sweeping changes to tax laws in 2019 Finance Bill]

There was a circular that we should not attend the public hearing. The Speaker too was only informed on Sunday about the hearing. So, we agreed not to be part of the hearing.

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“The Senate treats us with disdain and this has to stop. We only heard about the hearing when we saw the adverts in the newspaper. This is an insult and this has to stop,” the source said.

Dire Implications: The boycott has culminated into fear which could affect the passage of the 2020 Budget at the appropriate time.

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The leadership has directed us to be prepared for our own public hearing on the bill. After all, we have similar legislative powers with the Senate.

“Our fear now is that the development could threaten the passage of the 2020 budget this year because the amendments have to be included in the 2020 Appropriation bill,” the source added.

Notwithstanding whether the members from the lower chamber feel cheated or not, the members of the upper chamber still went ahead with the public hearing.

It can be recalled that Solomon Adeola, Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance and convener of the public hearing, noted that a wide number of financial experts had expressed their discomfort towards the bill that could see a spike in Value Added Tax (VAT), Company Income Tax and other taxes.

Hence, the importance of the public hearing which was meant to comprise of both the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Finance to allow all parties to air their views concerning the bill.


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